Myth #3: The author, publisher, and distributors are the only people to consider in pricing ebooks
I am all three (you can buy my books here on this site, in The Bookshop, which is how I’m also a distributor), and I also use Amazon and Kobo as other distributors because they give me wider range and visibility, and they are also more convenient for most people. If I wanted, I could just price things as I wanted and pretend like no-one else existed. Or, like Amazon and Hachette are doing, I could defend this or that theory about pricing and say that I’m standing up for something bigger than myself while still just doing whatever I want.
But the truth is that the author, publisher, and distributors aren’t even the most important players when it comes to pricing.
The readers are.
You have an intuition of what is reasonable, what is honest, and what isn’t. You know what kind of quality you’re looking for, and you’ll recognize a fair price when you see it.
I haven’t heard much from Hachette on what they’re using to back up their position, but I do know that Amazon is using statistics based on past purchasing patterns, which they then interpret according to their own values and their bottom line. And, hey, that’s a legit way of doing things, so long as those values are good ones.
Here’s the thing: You see prices and you see covers and you read samples, and if the three don’t jive, you wonder. If there’s a print price, you’ll see and compare that to the ebook price, too. And I know that, as much as you want some prices to be lower in order for things to jive, you also want others to be higher.
But if they do jive? And if, after reading the book in its entirety, they still jive?
You know that you’ve found something of value. You’ll probably be that much more willing to search out and find more books by that author or produced by that publisher as a result, because you know you’re getting a good book at a reasonable price.
If a publisher, whether traditional or indie, wants you to come back, and come back excited for more, they will have to listen to what you have to say about their pricing, and then show their respect for your feedback through action and not just words. After all, they’re in business because you want what they provide. Only an idiot would ruin that by making decisions that result in you not wanting what they provide.
Like I said, I have no idea about Hachette’s decision-making process. And, to be honest, I don’t have much of an idea about what all’s going on in Amazon’s head, either. I just know that these three myths have been running around a lot, and it’s about time someone said something about them.
My Promise to You About My Ebook Prices
I understand that price communicates certain things to readers, namely quality and quantity, and I will set my prices initially to reflect those as best I can.
This means I won’t have the lowest price available unless the story is too short to warrant anything higher.
From time to time, I might offer coupons or do sales, but this is only because I know that some of my readers don’t have very much money and simply won’t always be able to afford all of my books that they want at full price.
This also means I won’t have the highest price available unless I really believe my book is worth it (but, seeing as the highest priced book on Amazon is thousands of dollars, there’s very little chance of this).
And, if I ever offer something to the general public for free, it will be because I created it with that in mind, as both a gift to you and a low-risk way for new readers to discover my work.
That said, if you tell me that a book should be priced higher or lower, and if I get enough feedback about this, then I will change it. Also, if you give enough feedback saying that you don’t want me to do sales, or you want to give me money for the free things, or anything like that, I will respect what you have to say. In fact, please do feel free to tell me if any of my prices don’t jive with the product itself.
(Speaking of which, I’ve actually gotten some requests for me to up certain prices, which I’m considering, and I had one person express disappointment that Dreaming of Her and Other Stories was on sale when they bought it, rather than full price. It felt like being in the Twilight Zone or something. I totally thought I’d be getting the opposite feedback.)
I’m not trying to compete on price. I think it’s a silly game for me to play, since I don’t really care for playing it. What I want to mainly compete on is product, because I believe in my stories far more than in my prices. Which means that my prices, if not competitive, still absolutely must be honest in what they communicate to you about the books you’re considering buying.
So, here is my promise to you, and to all who read my books:
I promise to create stories that inspire, and I promise to price them honestly.
And that’s all there is to it.